Zanzibar, 3-9 December 2018
The General Council in collaboration with the Spiritan Conference of circumscriptions of Africa and the Islands (SCCAI) are hosting a Spiritan Inter-religious forum (IRD) in Zanzibar, Tanzania. The forum is made up of confreres working in different contexts of interreligious dialogue who will share ideas on IRD, delineating specific Spiritan approaches to IRD while proposing recommendations to the forthcoming General Chapter in Poland in 2020. Our week together in Zanzibar will help us to recognize and discuss the complexities of IRD and its specificity as an intriguing context for contemporary mission. In our global world today, some views about other religious traditions border on extremism and exclusive ideologies, neglecting the richness of commonly shared human and spiritual values of most religious traditions. Zanzibar with its majority Muslim population, Christian and other religious minorities offer a context for IRD encounter as we hope to draw from what is happening here and the positive experiences of confreres from other missions of IRD. This week, we hope to interact with local initiatives on IRD which are potential examples for harmonious intercultural living.
Participants and Resource Persons
The choice of participants for the forum took into account current or recent involvement of confreres in IRD. All are involved in interreligious or intercultural dialogue and will talk about their experiences in the field in order to give a picture closer to the reality of the mission. In order to deepen the reflection and sharing, there are four resource persons: Dr Marinus Iwuchukwu, Professor at Duquesne University, Pittsburg who will make a presentation on the important points of effective interreligious dialogue in our time; Mariella Beusmans, from the Netherlands, will speak about her experience of interreligious dialogue in Africa as a woman and a lay Spiritan Associate. In his presentation Fr. William Headley, from the United States, will explore tools for IRD peacebuilding in conflict situations, and Fr. Innocent Nweke, from Nigeria, will speak about African Traditional Religion in the context of Islamic-Christian dialogue. Marc Botzung from France, the past coordinator of IRD on the level of the congregation will focus on interreligious dialogue within the Congregation and Marc Tyrant will talk about issues coming from the General Council on IRD as we prepare for the General Chapter in 2020.
List of Participants:
- Augustine Katuka, from the province of Nigeria North West.
- Bertrand Mbela, from the Province of Central Africa on mission in Algeria.
- Florian Pachael Mohizi Mbabe, from the Province of Congo Brazzaville on mission in Mauritania.
- Olaf Derenthal, from the Province Europe, on mission in Central African Republic.
- Jean-François Solomon, from Mauritius, on mission in India.
- Louison Emerick Bissila Mbila, Executive Secretary of SCCAI working in Seychelles.
- Florentine Mallya, Tanzanian in charge of Formation and Education at the Generalate.
- Tony Neves, Portuguese, responsible for Justice, Peace, Integrity and Creation of Interreligious Dialogue (JPIC-IRD) at the Generalate.
- Adam Bago from Tanzania, who worked in the Philippines
- MaximilTambyapin, the Provincial Superior of Mauritius
- Aurelien Saniko, from Cameroon, on mission in Molenbeek, Brussels
- Chrislain Loubelo, from the Province of Congo Brazzaville working with indigenous populations in Northern Congo,
- Peter Ndegwa from Kenya.
- Juan Antonio Otano from Spain working in Northern Cameroon,
- Jose Harivola, from Madagascar, working in Pakistan
- Jude Nnorom from Nigeria, former JPIC-IRD coordinator
- Matthieu Boulanger from France, appointed in Pakistan
Upon arrival in Zanzibar, in a very hot and humid weather, the participants attended the solemn beginning of Advent in the historic Zanzibar Cathedral, in the very heart of Stone Town, the island’s historic capital. It was a moment of intense and happy celebration with the participation of a crowd of Catholics, on an island where the Catholic percentage does not exceed 1%, in a Muslim context.
This week of work will be very busy, with many presentations and spaces for sharing and prayer. The program provides for communications and sharing from those whose mission are in places where dialogue is a great challenge. Beyond the more academic reflections on this theme, we will listen to witness testimonies on the possibility of living dialogue between Christians, Muslims, Hindus, believers in African Traditional Religions, etc. We shall listen with a deep conviction that interactive debate on the positive aspects of tolerance is an antidote against all extremisms which create millions of victims all over the world.
On Saturday 8th December the feast of the Immaculate Conception and our congregational feast day, we shall be in solidarity with the local Church in Algeria, where the beatification of the missionaries (Bishop Pierre Claverie, the Monks of Tibhrine and the other martyrs) will take place. These martyrs gave their lives for the mission of dialogue with our Muslim brothers and sisters.
The great purpose of our Spiritan forum on interreligious dialogue is to share and reflect on our missionary commitments regarding IRD. We hope this forum will make concrete proposals which will be presented to the delegates of our forthcoming General Chapter to be held in Poland in 2020.
We shall continue to update confreres and sisters on the progress of this forum through our congregations website and face book page.
From Zanzibar: Tony Neves, Jude Nnorom and Chrislain Loubelo